If you want clear answers about Jesus, this is a great little book to read. I picked it up from Amazon as a means of preparing to share Jesus with others. I loved reading it. It is also a great refresher for mature Christians. The explanation on Jesus’s teachings on the blessings commonly known as The Beatitudes, was very moving. I would say it is the best explanation I have ever heard or read and I was reminded, once again, on what it really means to be a Christian. I share a summary that I hope will encourage you too. May God bless this inspiring author for his service to our Lord.
The word Blessed literally means “happy, fortunate, blissful.” It is more than surface emotion. Jesus describes the divinely bestowed well-being that belongs only to the faithful. The Beatitudes describe the true nature of saving faith.
First, the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) are those who know they have no spiritual resources of their own.
“Those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4) are repentant people, truly sorrowful over their own sin.
“The meek” (Matthew 5:5) are those who truly fear God and know their own unworthiness in light of His holiness.
“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) are those who, having turned from sin, yearn for what God loves instead.
The above four beatitudes are all inward qualities of authentic faith. They describe the believer’s state of heart and how the believer sees himself before God: poor, sorrowful, meek, and hungry. The final four beatitudes describe the outward manifestations of those qualities. They focus mainly on the believer’s moral character, and they describe what the authentic Christian should look like to an objective observer.
“The merciful” (Matthew 5:7) are those who, as beneficiaries of God’s grace, extend grace to others.
“The pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8) describes people whose thoughts and actions are characterized by holiness.
“The peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) speaks mainly of those who spread the message of “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1)—which is the only true and lasting peace.
“Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10) are citizens of Christ’s kingdom who suffer because of their affiliation with Him and their faithfulness to Him. The world hates them because it hates Him (John 15:18; 1 John 3:1, 13).
The order is significant. The more faithfully a person lives out the first seven beatitudes, the more he or she will experience the persecution spoken of in the eighth.
What was unsettling, if not radical, about Jesus’ Beatitudes?
Each one of these eight qualities is radically at odds with the world’s values. The world esteems pride more than humility; loves merriment rather than mourning; thinks strong-willed assertiveness is superior to true meekness; and prefers the satiety of carnal pleasure over a thirst for real righteousness. The world looks with utter contempt on holiness and purity of heart, scorns every plea to make peace with God, and constantly persecutes the truly righteous. Jesus could hardly have devised a list of virtues more at odds with His culture—or ours.
Why did the Beatitudes upset the Pharisees, the key religious leaders of Jesus’ day?
In the Sermon on the Mount—which begins with the Beatitudes—Jesus gave us the starting point for imitating God. We need to mourn over our sin with a broken and contrite spirit. When we are overwhelmed by our sinfulness, we will hunger and thirst for righteousness. So there is a paradox: we are to be like God, yet we must know we cannot be like Him on our own. Yet spiritual self-sufficiency defined the Pharisees’ whole system. They refused to acknowledge their sin, much less mourn over it. Far from being meek, they were the very embodiment of stubborn, overbearing self-assertiveness. They didn’t hunger and thirst for righteousness; they actually thought they had perfected it
~ Persevere in Faith…Elizabeth ~